The home of Sheriff Patrick Cannon was among 120 destroyed in Dade County, Ga., on April 27, but in the critical first days following the devastation, he focused his attention on his community rather than his personal loss.
“We’ve never faced anything that large of a devastation ... so many people in need,” he said.
The first four days after the storm were the most crucial as police and emergency workers tried to account for every resident, rescue the injured and help to clear roads.
Cannon was among those who lost everything when 150-mph winds tore across Sand Mountain and through Trenton, Ga. Two Dade County residents died in the twister and 275 homes were damaged in addition to those that were blown down.
Once Cannon determined that his wife and four kids were safe, he set to work helping others.
“He has put everybody else first,” said Chief Deputy Danny Ellis.
The sheriff said he was touched when other law enforcement from surrounding areas stepped in to help, donating money and helping to clean up his land as well as volunteering across the community.
“He was certainly moved by it all,” said Georgia Sheriff’s Association President J. Terry Norris, who gave the sheriff a check donated from sheriffs across the state.
Since then, Trenton has continued to recover. But rebuilding plans for Cannon are on hold. He plans to rebuild a 3,000-square-foot dream home on the same land as his former home.
For now, his family lives in a rented home, waiting to see if their insurance will cover the cost of rebuilding. But they are anxious to be back.
“We just can’t wait to get home,” he said.
Joy Lukachick Smith is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Since 2009, she's covered crime and court systems in North Georgia and rural Tennessee, landed an exclusive in-prison interview with a former cop convicted of killing his wife, exposed impropriety in an FBI-led, child-sex online sting and exposed corruption in government agencies. Earlier this year, Smith won the Malcolm Law Memorial Award for Investigative Reporting. She also won first place in ...